Explainers

Workplace Values


Are you part of a great team? Or, perhaps you aren’t? Working in harmony can depend on a number of variables. A great place to start when looking at promoting harmony amongst your colleagues is by establishing a set of values.

“Values guide how we work and make decisions. This guidance will be intentional or it will be unintentional, because every organisation (group) has values” (Stahl-Wert 2016).

Set workplace values provide a uniform road-map for work groups to conduct their everyday tasks with a common goal in mind. This clearly stated standard of behaviour is established in discussion with each other, and must be agreed upon by everyone for maximum impact.

To promote a positive response, it is imperative that workplace values are developed to be meaningful to the employee. Each work group develops their own values, and decides how they are expressed or lived, to promote a sense of ownership and accountability over their goals.

According to Bob and Gregg Vanourek (2014):

For a team, shared values are their moral and operational compasses. Shared values are the core beliefs that guide the behaviors of a group. These values are not just words posted on the website; they are actively used to make decisions, especially the toughest ones where difficult tradeoffs are involved.

There are three values that are, almost universally, included in organisations’ value statements: respect, integrity and accountability. These usually refer to the management and governance of the organisation. Value statements should be applied as a guide to informing each member on what behaviour is accepted and encouraged, and what behaviour is unacceptable and discouraged.

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Great team culture demands respect, integrity and accountability. Consider these suggestions when deciding what these values could mean in your workplace:

Respect

  • Treat colleagues with kindness
  • Acceptance of cultural diversity in the workplace
  • Acceptance of a multigenerational workplace
  • Acceptance of individuals’ different styles of working
  • Allow colleagues to express their opinion

Integrity

  • Trustworthy
  • Don’t be negative about your colleagues
  • Don’t be negative about your workplace
  • Keep confidences
  • Avoid gossip
  • ‘Walk your talk’
  • Hold yourself to a high standard of behaviour

Accountability

  • Take responsibility for the quality of your workplace relationships
  • Seek solutions to conflict, to ensure both sides have acceptable outcomes
  • Seek to understand the part you play in any conflict situation
  • Choose attitudes and behaviours that promote workplace harmony

Your values guide your thinking and actions. They set the standard for your behaviour and performance in the work place, and that of your team’s. They are the basis of what you believe to be good or bad, right or wrong.

The workplace is often multigenerational, ethnically diverse and composed of people of different genders and sexual orientation. For workplaces to be harmonious, developing a value statement and talking about how those values will be expressed within the work team is a great way to build team cohesion and workplace harmony.

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